US 7545288 B2
The invention proposes that a camera (18) takes a technical picture of an air outlet valve (10) of an aircraft, and the picture taken of the outlet valve (10) is displayed on a picture display unit (20), for example in the cockpit of the aircraft. By shining light onto the outlet valve from a light source (22), a clear picture with a high level of contrast is produced. The valve setting of the outlet valve (10) can thus be monitored visually, in a reliable manner, by the pilot.
1. A support system for monitoring an air outlet valve in an aircraft, the system comprising:
an air outlet valve disposed between an aircraft cabin and the outside atmosphere, wherein the air outlet valve can be fully opened to equalize the air pressure within the aircraft cabin with the outside atmosphere before aircraft cabin doors are opened;
a camera arranged to capture an image viewed through the air outlet valve; and
a display unit in operable communication with the camera and adapted to display the image taken by the camera;
wherein an observer of the display unit can visually determine whether the air outlet valve is fully opened, partially opened, fully closed, or otherwise obstructed before aircraft cabin doors are opened.
2. The support system of
3. The support system of
a valve lighting system designed to direct light onto the air outlet valve.
4. The support system of
5. The support system of
6. The support system of
7. The support system of
8. The support system of
9. The support system of
10. The support system of
11. The support system of
12. The support system of
This application is a 371 of PCT/EPO4/14863, filed Dec. 30, 2004
The invention relates to a support system for the monitoring of an air outlet valve in an aircraft.
The outlet valve being considered here is a valve which serves to control the cabin pressure of a transport aircraft for passengers or goods. Air from the cabin flows through the outlet valve into the external surrounds. The cabin pressure depends upon the valve setting of the outlet valve.
After landing the aircraft doors can only be opened if the outlet valve (just one outlet valve is referred to here; it is, however, clear that aircraft can also be equipped with two or more outlet valves) has been fully opened previously so that total equalization of the cabin pressure and the atmospheric level on the ground can take place. For this, the outlet valve must not be covered or blocked. Incomplete opening of the outlet valve or an impaired flow of air through the valve can result in residual low pressure in the cabin, which can be dangerous. There have been numerous injuries in the past as a result of residual high pressure when the cabin doors were opened which can cause the doors to swing open towards the outside in an uncontrolled manner.
Generally, the valve setting of the outlet valve is determined by sensors and established in the cockpit of the aircraft. Despite monitoring by sensors, accidents have still happened because the sensors used are unreliable and indicated a fully open valve setting, even though this was not the case, or the valve was fully open, but covered by objects.
The aim of the invention, therefore, is to improve safety when opening aircraft doors.
As a solution to this problem, the invention proposes a support system for the monitoring of an air outlet valve in an aircraft, whereby this system includes a camera directed at the outlet valve and a picture display unit to show pictures of the outlet valve taken by the camera.
By means of the technical picture representation of the outlet valve, an observer can clearly identify clearly, and without doubt, the valve setting of the outlet valve shown by the picture display unit, and so be reliably certain that the outlet valve is actually in its fully open setting. The invention therefore follows on from the previous task of identifying the valve setting of the outlet valve with appropriate sensors and communicating the results identified to the pilot, the accuracy of which he has to depend upon. Instead of this, the invention offers the pilot (or another person who is responsible for checking the valve setting of the outlet valve) the possibility to check the valve with his own eyes—an unusual way in a world which tries more and more to relieve people of tasks by the use of technical devices. It has, however, been shown that this way provides greater safety, and accidents associated with opening the doors of aircraft can be better avoided.
The picture display unit is specifically positioned within the cockpit of the aircraft. It is not, however, fundamentally out of the question to position the picture display unit elsewhere in the aircraft, for example so that the personnel responsible for opening the aircraft doors have the possibility of checking the valve setting of the outlet valve.
In a preferred form, the outlet valve is provided with a valve lighting system, whereby the light is directed onto the outlet valve. By illuminating the outlet valve, an even higher level of safety is offered because the valve setting is more easily identified on the picture displayed. It can be advantageous to arrange the valve lighting system in such a way that, seen from the camera, rear lighting is created for the outlet valve. Such rear lighting can be helpful for more clearly identifying the edge contours of the valve elements of the outlet valve on the picture displayed, and so to be able to make a better assessment of the valve setting. In order to provide rear lighting, the camera and the valve lighting system can be directed, approximately at least, from the opposite side onto the outlet valve.
The valve lighting system can have any number of lighting elements, for example just one, or several lighting elements distributed in an appropriate arrangement. With regard to the spectral composition of the light emanating from the valve lighting system, various solutions are possible here as well. The valve lighting system can be designed in such a way that the outlet valve is illuminated with infra-red light. Alternatively, black light can be used to illuminate the outlet valve. It is, of course, also possible to use visible light for the illumination of the outlet valve.
Identification of the outlet valve on the picture displayed can be improved further by providing at least parts of the outlet valve with reflective coating for at least one part of the light spectrum of the valve lighting system. It is also possible to provide at least parts of the outlet valve with a coating which absorbs part of the light spectrum of the valve lighting system. The spectral sensitivity of the camera is specifically suited to the spectrum of the light emitted and appropriate to the absorptive and/or reflective properties of the outlet valve. For example, the camera can be a mono-chrome camera.
Independent of the provision of the camera and the picture display unit, heightened safety when opening aircraft doors can also be offered by the valve lighting system alone. The outlet valve can, indeed, also be checked by direct observation without transferring a picture of the outlet valve to a place some distance away. Here, the valve lighting system improves identification of the outlet valve which is often installed in a relatively dark position at the stern of the aircraft.
An example of the invention is illustrated on the attached drawing in